Zombies are the middle children of the otherworldly family. Vampires are the oldest brother who gets to have a room in the attic, all tripped out with a disco ball and shag carpet. Werewolves are the youngest, the babies, always getting pinched and told they're cute. With all that attention stolen away from the middle child zombie, no wonder she shuffles off grumbling, "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha."

- Kevin James Breaux

Friday, November 15, 2013


October is usually one of the more active months for horror film releases and now that it has finally come and gone we should take a look at how the horror genre is faring in 2013.  It should be noted that this October was a very light month for horror which only had the release of the high profile Carrie (2013) remake since this will be the first year within the last four that a Paranormal Activity film has not been released (it should be noted that Paranormal Activity 5 will be back next October along with the spin-off The Marked Ones in early 2014). 

Zombies are the tops both at the Box Office and on the small screen (with the ever growing success of The Walking Dead).  World War Z managed to be the highest grossing horror film of the year so far with over $202.4 million in its coffers.  This is terrific for the horror genre as it proves that horror films can have mainstream success.  Now I know there are many of you out there who still can’t get over the fact that this film has almost absolutely nothing to do with its literary source material but you have to hand it to Brad Pitt and the film makers that they did deliver a pulse pounding action and suspense filled zombie film.  Regardless of your opinions on the film it was a massive success both domestically and abroad (another $337.6 million) guaranteeing a sequel to be in the works.

Next up is the one-two punch from director James Wan with The Conjuring and Insidious Chapter 2 ($137.4 and $83.1 million, respectfully).  He delivered one of the biggest word of mouth successes of the year with The Conjuring.  This haunted house film based on a true story was one of the big success stories of the year both at the domestic and foreign box office (worldwide gross at $316.7).  Insidious Chapter 2 took what was popular with the first film and expanded upon it delivering a sequel that grossed more than the first one.  It is hard to produce a successful horror sequel (just look at the dismal returns of The Last Exorcism Part 2 and Texas Chainsaw 3D) but there is no denying the popularity of this franchise with audiences.

Pacific Rim was neither a huge hit nor a failure with its $101.8 domestic haul.  It was a film designed to play better at the foreign box office which is did in spades (another $305.8 million foreign).  It was a huge success overseas but here in the states the film was a well received (and reviewed) oddity similar to director Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy films. 

Next up are a few sleeper hits which really mean films that weren’t expected to do well but surpassed expectations – Mama, Warm Bodies, and The Purge.  Mama was an early 2013 surprise hit taking in $71.6 million.  This film (produced by Guillermo del Toro) came out of nowhere and got great word of mouth and played very well to audiences in the early part of the year.  Warm Bodies became one of the few YA films to actual find an audience with a haul of $66.4 million.  It also played well overseas (another $50.6 million foreign) proving that zombies, whether they be the fast moving kind of World War Z or the romantic kind of this film, dominate the box office and audiences can’t get enough.  It also helps that the film was actually good and word of mouth helped it find its audience.  The Purge ended up being this year’s over achiever with a budget of $3 million yet it grossed over $64 million.  These are great numbers from a financial point but audiences were a little disappointed by the film and word of mouth for this film was not so great.  The investment for the film was indeed a great thing and a sequel is in the works so let’s hope that the next film actually delivers the goods.

Further down the list is Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters which grossed a so-so $55.7 million (but another $170 million foreign) which is nothing to brag about considering how much the film cost $50 million to produce but what should be noted is the fact that this film was one of the most entertaining films of the year made for a cult audience.  It may not have found its audience at the box office but it will as a cult movie.

The remake of Evil Dead is also a minor success story with $54.2 million (against a $17 million production budget) as it was a remake that was both a financial and critical success.  Dropping the horror-comedy trappings of the original franchise this remake decided to go for broke as a dead serious gore filled horror extravaganza that also happened to be well written, acted, and directed.  This will be remembered as one of the best remakes of the decade.

The re-release of Jurassic Park in 3D added another $45.4 million to its gross making it one of the more successful 3D re-releases (with an accumulated gross over time of $1.03 billion worldwide).  In a declining 3D marketplace it’s good to know that there are still a few films out there worth paying the extra few dollars for the upgrade and you can’t go wrong with this classic.

That concludes our list of the Top 10 grossing horror films of the year but let’s take a few moments to look at a few of the other films.

Riddick, the third part of the Riddick saga, didn’t fare as well as expected with $42.03 million but it wasn’t as disliked as the previous film and it did return the character back to his roots.  It also did so-so compare to its actual production cost which was a meager $38 million (ending its theatrical run with $93.6 worldwide). 
A Haunted House was a huge low budget success story with $40.04 million (against a  $2.5 million budget) and a sequel is already in the works for 2014 proving that you can’t keep a good parody down.  The same cannot be said for Scary Movie 5 which is the lowest grossing in the franchise with an anemic $32.01 million.

Sequels also did not do so well as Texas Chainsaw 3D started well opening at number one at the box office with $21.7 million but then audience indifference only allowed the film to end its run with a meager $34.3 million.  The Last Exorcism Part 2 also did horrible at the box office with a non-existent $15.2 million (with a budget of $5 million).  The first film really should have been the first, only, and last.

R.I.P.D. was D.O.A. with only $33.6 million making it one of the biggest box office duds of the year (production budget at $130 million).  Also, the festival favorite You’re Next could not find its audience grabbing only a meager $18.5 million.  This was one of the few well received horror films that just could not catch a break (it sat on the studio shelf for two years).  Dark Skies was also non-existent at the box office never finding its audience with a so-so $17.4 million but since the film cost only a little over $3.5 million to produce it didn’t hurt as much.

With Carrie being the last horror film released this year thus far (at only approximately $34.5 million) it’s hard to determine the tastes of audiences as the success stories are so independent of one another.  Zombie films and any movie directed by James Wan were “in” while sequels were definitely “out”.  There were so many different types of films to choose from that it seemed like most audiences just waited for word of mouth to tell them what movies to go see.  It just goes to show you that the horror genre is far from predictable and that 2014 will be open season for everything to start all over again.

All info about film grosses and budgets were obtained from Box Office Mojo (www.boxofficemojo.com).

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